Our survey took place from 1st of April to 21st of April and we awaited the responses with interest. Both Level 2 and 3 were shown so that all employers could see the full spectrum of a groom's apprenticeship.
The response was incredibly positive, with over 300 people taking part in the survey (189 completing the survey) and an overall approval of 93.63% for the level 2 and 92.9% for level 3! The highest individual mark came from the Behaviours section with a stunning 99.43%!
Many employers took the time to offer their comments (for which we are grateful) and we are presently sifting through them and passing them onto the relevant disciplines/routes to see whether these can or should be added into the Standard. We found that often queries were raised because employers did not fully realise how the new apprenticeships came about (and are about) & it is worth re-iterating these original facts:
This is a government-led initiative. We did not start the initiative, the government was changing all apprenticeships by 2017 and pulling together a group of experienced and professional employers was the only way to ensure that we - the employers- would have a voice and an apprenticeship designed by us rather than led by third parties with self-interest.
The brief from Government is clear: we are to produce world-class, well-grounded apprentices with a thorough knowledge of their industry and sufficient transferable skills to secure employment right across the many facets of our industry.
The government stipulated a minimum of 12 months for each apprenticeship.
The apprentice will be safeguarded by stringent criteria set by government and employers wanting to take on an apprentice will have to adhere to these.
Government will only give incentive payments (such as for 'Small employer' and for 'Recruiting 16 - 18 year old') to employers who access external training, which will be bought on a one-third/two third basis. Therefore, whether you do or do not have sufficient facilities to train your apprentices at home, you will be encouraged to purchase some of the training externally, at your discretion.
The fundamental difference between the present apprenticeships and the new ones being designed is that they, unlike the present ones (modular with optional units = unknown quality by potential gaps of knowledge), have to be fully completed by the apprentice. To be 'signed off', he/she will need to undertake an end-point assessment, which may include the production of portfolios, photographic evidence etc., all to be decided in the next stage of development, whereby a synoptic overview and various evidence produced will ensure that the apprentice is indeed knowledgeable, confident and capable, ready for employment and an asset to any yard.
Any additional qualifications such as WATO or RRS or BHS or ABRS will be encouraged as evidence of knowledge but due to Governmental guidelines cannot be mandatory, hence cannot be mentioned in the Standard, nor the Assessment plan. These will, however reinforce the experience, knowledge and proof of the apprentice's abilities.
The next phase will be spent writing the Assessment Plan, which is when the detail of the Standard will come in. Original guidelines only allowed us to use a 2 page A4 paper for writing the Standard so everything had to be kept short and general. The terminology also had to be in plain English as it had to be 'understood by anyone, "even the potential apprentice's grand-mother"! This was a very hard undertaking with such a complex and varied industry. The Assessment plan will be much more detailed and stretching. This is where many of the comments from the survey will be revisited and incorporated where felt appropriate.
Once again, thanks to all of you who filled out the survey and please keep visiting the website to keep updated on the progress.